Coming off a commanding 71-48 victory over Northridge, the UCSB women’s basketball team continues its road trip north to take on Pacific tonight.
[media-credit id=20124 align=”alignright” width=”175″][/media-credit]The Gauchos stand at 11-9 (5-3 Big West), while the Tigers are 6-15 (3-5 Big West). UCSB leads the all-time series over Pacific 50-15 and has won four consecutive match-ups. The last time they faced the Tigers was a 56-47 home victory on Jan 8.
“Any given day anybody can come out and steal a win [in the conference],” junior forward Kelsey Adrian said. “Pacific is playing really well right now; they’re fighting and doing a good job.”
Pacific is coming off a surprising 62-59 victory over Riverside, a performance that impressed UCSB Head Coach Lindsay Gottlieb.
“They came out with a reckless abandon, and they didn’t look intimidated by Riverside,” Gottlieb said.
In the January victory over Pacific, UCSB senior forward Mekia Valentine’s 11-point, 17-rebound double-double led the Gauchos. Freshman guard Nicole Nesbit provided strong play off the bench with 12 points and five steals.
Gottlieb noted that defense, especially in the low post, will be a key in this game.
“We’ve done a good job defensively on big kids,” Gottlieb said. “If we can make it a little of a transition game, that is to our benefit because Mekia is a special sort of post player in that she can defend big kids but also run down the floor like a guard.”
Freshman forward Danielle Peacon is leading the Tigers with over 12 points and almost seven rebounds per game. In her last contest facing UCSB, she scored a team high 14 points while pulling down six rebounds.
Gottlieb added that Valentine’s defense on Peacon would be an important theme throughout the game.
After committing more than 20 turnovers in three consecutive games, the Gauchos have managed to limit their turnovers in the last two contests.
“Most of our turnovers are when we are kind of back on our heels and we are really unsure,” Adrian said. “We just need to be aggressive and attack the basket, and good things will happen when we do that.”
UCSB leads the Big West in a number of defensive categories, allowing less than 59 points per game, while forcing opponents to shoot worse than 35 percent from the floor.
“A big focus for our team is our defense and that will get us going offensively,” Adrian said. “Even when our offensive game isn’t coming and we aren’t knocking down shots, we have our defensive game to fall back on, and that really gets us running out on transition as well.”
Freshman guard Melissa Zornig added that the team has been playing well defensively and needs to continue the strong play.
Tip-off against Pacific is set for 7 p.m.